S.S. Segran spent a good chunk of her childhood exploring the enchanted forest of a million tales in the mystical land of books. In her early teens, she began crafting intriguing new worlds and conjuring up characters who came alive with the flick of her wand… err… pen. With the publication of Aegis Rising in her senior year of high school, she was surprised by the abundance of time that magically appeared right after graduation. She plans to use this newfound resource to expand the arc of the Aegis Series. Her future plans include studying Cognitive Science at university and helping youths in developing countries realize their potential through her non-profit organization, Aegis League
When not devouring a book or writing one, S.S. Segran can be found standing behind the cauldron of life, stirring a potion made up of chores, parkour, gaming, drawing, horseback riding and—having recently jumped off a perfectly fine airplane at fifteen thousand feet – perhaps skydiving.
Hello, S.S.! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, Aegis Rising. That is praise indeed! First, tell me how you discovered indieBRAG and please tell me tell me how your experience with self-publishing has been like thus far?
Hi Stephanie, thank you for your kind words and for inviting me.
indeBRAG was discovered by my dad while he was researching book review and recognition sites. I’m lucky in that I get to focus on writing while he manages marketing and publicity! Self-publishing has been a great experience for me for a variety of reasons, chief amongst them is the ability to have control over the creative process. I was told to cut down on a number of characters and make significant changes to the plot by a certain publisher in order to be considered. That was my first experience in dealing with the industry and I guess with me being a young writer, maybe it seemed to them that my work would naturally need some serious help. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely open to ideas and actively work with my advance readers and my editor to bring my readers the best book possible within my ability, but there are certain non-negotiables at the heart of my work that I must remain true to. So, yes, creative control would be one of the key elements that I appreciate in being an indie. The other would be speed and flexibility; to be able to publish your work as and when you see fit, to be able to make changes to content and pricing and having the capability to react to the market as needed.
From reading your bio it looks like you have a full schedule. How do you find time to write and how often do you write?
Finding time to write while in high school was certainly challenging. It was a juggling act with several balls in the air on any given day. Typically I would put in about ten hours on weekdays and anywhere between ten and fifteen hours on the weekends. As a general rule I try to write every day in order to stay connected with my alternate reality!
I noticed you want to study Cognitive Science. The study of the mind and its process is fascinating indeed. Do you find this interest helps you with the characterization in your stories and will further develop any future characters you write about?
I was trying to decide between studying Business and Cognitive Science for some time. For the very reasons you suggested in your question I decided on Cognitive Science and look forward to studying the fascinating aspects of the human mind as it relates to our senses, perception and understanding of the world around us. I plan to start as soon as I return to Canada from my one year of volunteer service in Haifa, Israel. Besides its application in the real world, I believe that this field of study will be invaluable in helping me create characters that are engaging and believable by exploring the multi-faceted tapestry of their lives.
Please tell me about your non-profit organization.
While researching for Aegis Rising, I came upon an article about micro-loans. These are loans so small that traditional banks typically choose not to get involved in. They are given out to people in developing countries by non-profits or alternative financial organizations in order to start small businesses, purchase equipment and tools or other such things to help them elevate their living conditions. I have learnt that it takes so little on our part to make a difference in the life of another person living in another part of our planet. After giving it some thought and speaking with my parents and friends, I decided to set up Aegis League, a non-profit to help empower youths in developing countries explore their potential. We do this by partnering with like-minded organizations such as streetkids.org to provide life-skills training and microloan funding. Toward that end a portion of all sales from my books is donated to this cause.
What are some of the worlds you have created besides the ones in Aegis Rising?
There were many alternate worlds that I created when I was much younger. They mostly grew out of my desire to keep the books that I was reading from coming to an end. I would take up a pencil in my hand and write extensions to these stories that meandered to no particular conclusion. While most of the evidences from these creative explorations have ‘vanished’, my mom’s managed to salvage a few and has them tucked away safely, somewhere! For now, having completed Book Two (Aegis Incursion), I am fully immersed in building and expanding the Aegis universe in preparation for the three remaining books in the series.
Do you work with an outline, journal or do you just write as you go along?
For the first book I used the combination of a basic outline and organic writing for the most part. However, the more complex plot in Book Two meant that I had to utilize different tools such as mind-mapping, storyboarding, timelines, chapter capsules etc. Though they seem very structured, I made a conscious decision to ensure that there was enough room for organic development, especially with the characters.
Please tell me about your book.
Aegis Rising is a story about the survivors of an ancient civilization who live secretly in a hidden valley in northern Canada, awaiting the chosen ones from their prophecy, and a mysterious corporation with a global reach led by a shadowy figure that has a dystopian vision for the planet. The two worlds are about to collide and five teenage friends find themselves cast into the middle of this devastating conflict. Although categorized as a Young Adult novel, Aegis Rising seems to appeal to a broad age group. It is a classic good versus evil story with a modern twist to it. As one reader put it, “Aegis Rising is a unique and compelling novel that combines the youthful camaraderie of the Percy Jackson series with the relentless action of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt adventures and weaves it through a dystopian backdrop of the Hunger Games trilogy.” While it is an honor to be compared to such iconic authors, I have always imagined Aegis Rising to be a unique read for my readers. I am thrilled and thankful for the amazing response that the novel has received from readers across the globe.
You have quite the cast of characters in your story. Please tell me which ones you are most partial too and why.
It’s difficult for me to pick a favorite as it feels like I have split myself into some of these characters. So, truthfully, I have no favorites. However there are some I would be interested in exploring further, like Hutar for instance. It would be interesting to explore his complexities and character further. I can assure you, I am far from done with this guy!
Please tell me about Dema-Ki.
Dema-Ki, or the Hidden Valley, is a unique place of significance in the Aegis League Series. Located somewhere along the mountains that border Yukon and the Northwest Territories in Canada, this valley is surrounded by glistening snow-capped peaks and at its heart lies a tranquil village. A beautiful emerald river called Esroh Lègna runs the entire length of the valley and passes through this village, dividing it into two sections. The northern half is made of mainly residential structures known as neyra and the southern half is where the community’s production hub is situated. It includes a large greenhouse, a barn, workshops and even a laboratory and a storehouse. Surrounded by spruce and fir trees, all the structures in Dema-Ki are built and colored to blend in with the landscape in order to avoid detection from air. The inhabitants are the hybrid descendants of a mysterious race of people who left their home island two and a half millennia ago when it was destroyed by a volcano, and the indigenous people who lived along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. After an initial skirmish the two peoples eventually became one and moved inland to build this haven. They carried with them an ancient prophecy about a dark storm that will descend on humanity’s horizon and five ‘Saplings of Aegis’ who will arise as the bearers of light to stop this malevolent force.
Out of the ‘five’ which one is the strongest and which one is the weakest and why?
Each of the characters obviously has their own strengths and weaknesses. For Jag, his weakness lies in his disinclination to step up to the task of assuming responsibility for decisions involving the five; he doesn’t believe that he’s a capable leader. As for Mariah, her strength comes in the form of her spunk—though it can admittedly get her into trouble sometimes. For this reason, I’m not particularly inclined on determining who’d weakest and who’s strongest. Also, as the characters grow through the arc of the series (they started out as sixteen and seventeen year-olds in Book One and are now seventeen and eighteen in Book Two), their outlook and worldview together with some of their traits will go through transformations; as such I’d prefer to let them make this an organic journey.
The Prologue is set circa 500 in an undisclosed shore along the Pacific Northwest and a long-lost island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Why did you choose this time and setting and what interest you most about this period?
The people of Dema-Ki, as I mentioned earlier, are the descendants of two groups of people. The first group originated from an island that was completely destroyed when a long dormant volcano erupted violently circa 500 BC. Though I have not stated (yet) that the island was located in the Tyrrhenian Sea or provide an explicit description or the identity of the people, readers will eventually find morsels of descriptions throughout the series that will provide clues to who these people were and how they came to possess their amazing capabilities.
As for the people who lived on the coast of the Pacific Northwest at that time, these were some of the earliest groups to settle in that area and had established a way of life that was completely in tune with nature and lived in grateful appreciation for all that the earth had to offer them.
The coming together of these two groups of people and their eventual unification into a single race fused the earth-bound, nature-focused qualities of one group with the ethereal and supernatural abilities of the other, resulting in a harmonious and gentle way of life imbued with highly potent capabilities that help them survive in complete isolation from the rest of the world.
My interest in this period was due to the rise of a number of cultures along the islands and coasts in the Mediterranean that have contributed to the development of art, philosophy, literature, commerce and science. From the Phoenician who brought us the alphabets to the Egyptians who built the Ancient Library of Alexandria, this region offers many exciting prospects for a writer.
What fascinates you most about writing in this genre?
This genre allows me to explore endless possibilities and build worlds and characters that the young and the eternally youthful are able to connect with, watch over and care for as they embark on a unique journey with them. As I mentioned earlier, although the series was intended for the Young Adult reader, the story has somehow appealed to people of all age groups. This has certainly fascinated me. One recent review from a seventy-one year old reader sums it up: “This book is listed as being for the teen market but I would recommend it to any age group. I am a 71 year old male and I enjoyed the book. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished the book and found that it was written by a 17 year old girl. I was delighted to find that it didn’t have sex and foul language.”
Perhaps writing a clean read lends itself to this genre and beyond after all!
What advice could you give to young aspiring writers?
If you believe you have a story to tell that is compelling and entertaining, get started on it right away! Don’t wait another day. Do some basic research about the genre you’d like to write (look at other books in that category – read some of them) then start with the concept of your story (build a vision for your book), outline the plots and subplots, establish the characters, select the setting and tone, and then start writing and keep writing. What I found helpful is having tools like timelines, character sheets, mind maps, sketching some of the scenes (even if you have to use stick people), and creating storyboards as if it were a film (this will come in handy for some of the more complex scenes). Find a few friends and/or family members who will be happy to act as sounding board for your ideas and be your advance readers. Join a writers’ group in your community. And, yes… start writing!
Where can readers buy your book?
Aegis Rising is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers. However the e-book format is currently available exclusively on Amazon. The books are also available at the following bookstores in Canada: Chapters (B.C.), Black Bond Books, Kidsbooks and Bean Around Books and Tea in Maple Ridge.
Thank you, S.S.! It was a pleasure chatting with you.
Thank you for having me. It’s been my pleasure.
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview S.S. Segran, who is the author of, Aegis Rising our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Aegis Rising, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.